(14 February 1934 – 19 March 2019)
Ma Deva Barbara (Barbara van Rooijen-Field) was born in New York on 14 February 1934. She left her body in The Hague, Holland on 19 March 2019 at the age of 85.
Barbara grew up in Long Island, New York in a colourful, art-loving Jewish family; her parents, Hilde and Louis, were Polish-Russian immigrants.
They raised six children, and Barbara was the youngest. Her brother Richard is still alive; her beloved brother Edward was always her role model.
Jumping into a new life
When Barbara was 22, she came to Europe for two weeks and stayed. She never lacked courage and guts.
She taught herself singing by listening very closely and began performing in jazz clubs. In this jazz world Barbara met the love of her life, Ack, a highly-acclaimed jazz musician. Both of them loved travelling and spent much time in places like Paris, Monaco and Berlin. In 1981 she settled in Holland, living with Ack in The Hague.
There she became involved in setting up the oldest Osho centre/commune, the still thriving Wajid OMC.
Already while living in New York, she became involved in the early Primal Therapy with Arthur Janov, until she discovered Dynamic Meditation at the Osho Padma Centre. There she became a lover of Osho and took sannyas. From then onwards she cherished the name Ma Deva Barbara, wore orange clothing and the mala in full surrender, and always avoided well-trodden paths.
Inspired and inspiring
Barbara was a professional in more than singing; she taught T’ai Chi, Avatar and Rebalancing. She co-founded the successful Dutch School for Rebalancing and passionately contributed to the curriculum of the School until three years ago. Bodywork was her great love; her care and precision could be found in whatever she did. She kept Osho alive through presenting his Meditations, and by inviting guest-teachers who were also sannyasins.
In the many years of her teaching, not a single student has been left untouched by her wisdom. Barbara’s spirit and inspiration will carry on through many of her well-embodied statements, such as ‘the golden hook that keeps the head upright and relaxed and connected with the heavenly sky’, ‘walk your talk’, ‘less is more’, ‘easy is right’, ‘different strokes for different folks’, ‘it takes one to see one’, ‘it takes two to tango’…
It was not easy to escape her eagle eye. Her presence was firm, focussed, unwavering and at the same time so soft, flexible and supportive.
Barbara was also involved in the Santo Daime church (since 1996), where she was a natural leader and learner.
During the past 18 months or so she was ill. Physically her bodily health slowly deteriorated, yet her spirit remained clear and sharp. Her courage to face the fact of death and stay light about it was impressive for the friends around her.
She recently said: “I have always thought that life is about being Here and Now. Being close to death I have come to realise that there is only Now. Love and Clarity remain, these are immortal.”
In one of the Avatar Trainings she conducted, there was an assignment to make one’s own epitaph. Barbara asked her dear friend Jeanine to save that epitaph until her death. This is what she had written: “Barbara, you danced your life in Love and Grace.”
On Wednesday 27 March, hundreds of friends and lovers flocked to the Santo Daime church on a gloriously sunny, fresh spring day to give her a send-off in the right spirit. Ack, her beloved partner for over 60 years, played two numbers (‘My one and only Love’, ‘Leaving’) on his bugle at Barbara’s casket. It was a very touching farewell with lightness, depth of feeling, gratitude, much love, tears, beautifully sung Santo Daime hymns, meeting and sharing with old friends.
Some of the tributes that were read aloud from those who could not be present:
“Beloved Barbara, fellow soul-traveller, friend, lover of Osho, pillar of Rebalancing, thank you for our times together in the past, and wishing you best journeys ahead. Grateful for the love and light we have shared.” Nishant Matthews
“Anasha and I have been holding loving vigil for Barbara here in Vilcabamba.
“Beloved Barbara, a free, uncompromising Spirit… an inspiration, a friend to many, a healer, and a laughing Buddha… Loving you now and always. Fly high, beloved, into the Light.” Anubuddha and Anasha
“Barbara, Jewish sister, I loved you, have a wonderful trip to the other shore.” Deva Satyarti
Credit to Jeanine for text, to Wilko for organizing bio and images, to Ashram White Cloud for the sannyas photos, and to Kaiyum for alert and editing
You can leave a message / tribute / anecdote using our contact form (pls add ‘Barbara’ in the subject field).
Barbara and I became friends in 1982. She was the first person who shared her way to sannyas, and her meeting and talking with Osho. We worked together in the Rebalancing School. She was quite an amazing person to be with.